THIS BLOG is created by the Arts & Media Archaeology team at the Antwerp Research Institute for the Arts (ARIA, UAntwerp) and associated colleagues. We want to offer a peek behind the scenes of our research, including visits to unique archives or remarkable private collectors, seminars with international speakers, media archaeological experiments, and inspiring cases. Our aim is to showcase the varied and challenging nature of our research process.

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Politics on Show: The Magic Lantern Performances of Brussels Mayor Charles Buls

At the dawn of the twentieth century, Charles Buls, the forward-thinking mayor of Brussels, employed magic lantern performances not merely to display his extensive travels but also to illuminate his socio-political ideals. These spellbinding illustrated lectures whisked audiences away to far-flung corners of the globe, deftly weaving in Buls’ passionate advocacy for cultural conservation and civic identity. His poignant recounting of the tragic Messina earthquake of 1908 not only shed light on the plight of that unfortunate city and its people but also unveiled his grand vision for Brussels. Through the lens of Buls’ magic lantern, we delve into the intricate tapestry where his globetrotting adventures and political philosophy converge, illuminating a legacy that resonates far beyond his time.

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Decoding Fairground Newspapers: Analysing History with Large Language Models

Can large language models (LLMs) and artificial intelligence (AI) unlock the secrets hidden within historical documents, such as showpeople periodicals? This…

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If ghosts could speak

Levitating tables, conversations with deceased family members, or fortune-telling: spiritism was a “hot item” in nineteenth-century Belgium. PhD researcher…

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Showpeople as early adopters

What role did science and technology once play at the fairground? And how were new technologies such as X-ray technology, photography, and film presented and…

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This blog is an initiative of the Arts & Media Archaeology team at the Antwerp Research Institute for the Arts (UAntwerp) and associated colleagues.

We study the circulation of science, knowledge and visual culture through popular entertainment in the long nineteenth century. How were science and technology introduced to large audiences? What forms of knowledge were transmitted and disseminated through popular culture? What role did visual media play in the circulation of knowledge? At the same time, we look at how this culture continues to affect us today with attention to the changing relation between art and science.

Our interdisciplinary team brings together artists and researchers from Art and Performance Studies, Media Archaeology and Cultural History. We share an interest in the interactions between performance, science and technology, and their media archaeological entanglements.


SciFair is a five-year research project (2021-2026) funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 948678 – SciFair).